An assessment of the causes, cost effects and solutions to design-error- induced variations on selected building projects in Nigeria

Keywords: Construction projects, cost of error, design documents, design error, variation cost, valuation documents


Design errors and variations are inherently part of many construction projects and require deliberate effort to combat. The literature reviewed indicates that empirical studies of the cost effect of design-error-induced variations are scarce. This study investigates the causes of variation on building projects, the frequent design errors that lead to variation, the effects of design error on variation cost, and solutions to design-error-induced variation in design documents. A mixed methods research (interviews and 30 case study building projects) was used to collect the necessary data for the study. Interviews were conducted with 25 construction professionals to obtain information on the causes of variation on building projects and solutions to design-error-induced variation on building construction projects. Thirty documents including valuation breakdowns and variation/change order documents were obtained by convenience sampling technique and used for the extraction of design errors leading to variations and their associated costs. The data was analysed with frequencies and percentages. The study found that poor working drawing and lack of coordination among design documents are the major causes of variation. Errors in design calculations and wrong descriptions in specifications are prominent design errors that led to variation. Design errors account for roughly 36% of the variation cost of building projects. Structural and architectural drawings contain the largest number of errors among design documents, but electrical and mechanical documents have the highest contribution to variation cost. The study concluded that variation costs could be minimized if government policies, aimed at ensuring proper contract documentation, were put in place, and construction professionals were limited to their core roles on construction projects. Rechecking of design documents prior to use, knowledge sharing, and use of computer programs were among the recommended solutions to design-error-induced variation in project documents.


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